CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Those who have visited the Fashion Square Mall recently have probably noticed that it is almost a ghost town, with no busy business days, but that is all about to change.

Albemarle County recently leased the old JC Penney, Albemarle County recently leased the facility and plans on repurposing it.

Officials say that a portion of the old store, which is a large space, will be turned into a new public safety operations center.

The 33,000-square-foot store will get a complete makeover, with maintenance, space, and storage as part of the new public safety operation center. 

"This facility will allow us the flexibility and because it is centrally located the convenience for a lot of our folks to get the tools and maintenance needed to maintain our system," said Chief Dan Eggleston, Albemarle County Department of Fire Rescue.

This is an expensive project, but a county supervisor says that it was a steal. 

"We're estimating $3.1 million for the renovations, which seems like a lot of money, but when you compare that with what it would cost to purchase land, design, and build an entirely new facility it really becomes a good bit of a bargain," said Donna Price, the chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

The initial lease is set up for the county to be in the store for a long time.

"The lease is ten years and we have built-in options to renew in five-year increments, so it could be as long as 20 years of occupancy. But we did build into our lease the ability to expand if space is available and there is a demonstrated need for space that we have," said Lance Stewart, director of the Department of Facilities and Environmental Services.

The facility will include repair shops for emergency and law enforcement vehicles, equipment rooms, and more.

Stewart says renovations will be done in stages and will take a year and a half to complete.